Dark Age Naval Power. a Reassessment of Frankish and

Dark Age Naval Power. a Reassessment of Frankish and Anglo-Saxon Seafaring Activity Dark Age Naval Power a reassessment of Frankish and Anglo Saxon Seafaring Activity, by John Haywood, 1999, 187 pagesThis is a work about Frankish and Anglo Saxon seafaring, published by Anglo Saxon Books, yet the Anglo Saxons don t feature as prominently in it as you may have hoped The first 77 pages are about early Germanic seafaring, which does provide a background, but I d not really class the Roman period as being dark age Chapter 3 33 pages is where the Anglo Saxons come into it prope Dark Age Naval Power a reassessment of Frankish and Anglo Saxon Seafaring Activity, by John Haywood, 1999, 187 pagesThis is a work about Frankish and Anglo Saxon seafaring, published by Anglo Saxon Books, yet the Anglo Saxons don t feature as prominently in it as you may have hoped The first 77 pages are about early Germanic seafaring, which does provide a background, but I d not really class the Roman period as being dark age Chapter 3 33 pages is where the Anglo Saxons come into it properly and this concerns the Saxon Shore 4 pgs , from raiding to settlement 12 pgs , their ships 17 pgs and then up to the Viking Age 3 pgs The remaining 76 pages are all about the Franks and their naval affairs As you can see from this breakdown, you don t really get a lot about Anglo Saxon seafaring in here This doesn t make it a bad book, but it does make it feel a bit limited in this aspect and I m not convinced that I d have paid 14.95 if I d known the allocation of contents prior to purchase.Haywood knows his stuff When it comes to boats and seafaring he s very good He makes a very worthy point about how Germanic seafaring has been squeezed out by the Vikings grabbing most of the attention and this book redresses the balance He demonstrates that there was always a seafaring aspect to the Germans and how this continued from the Roman period all the way through to the end of the book He dispels any idea that the Anglo Saxons didn t use sails and makes a strong case for the Franks being a significant naval power In fact the chapter on Charlemagne is easily the strongest in the book In particular the section on the Rhine Danube Regnitz Altmuhl Canal is very interesting This failed project is sometimes used as a comparison between the civil engineering accomplishments of Offa and Charlemagne However, Haywood shows that the two aren t like for like Whilst both required lots of spade work, the canal had insuperable geological problems quick sand and a difference in water levels and the strategic purpose passed before it had progressed very far So comments in books lauding Offa s much longer dyke and criticising Charlemagne s relatively short canal aren t justified There are a lot of footnotes with original sources and translations in this work and they would be of great use to anyone wishing to go further with their study This book only looks at piracy and warfare, barring a short study concerning possible migration methods There are sections about ship construction for each era and these are pretty thorough, but not particularly exciting for the lay reader, unless you have a yearning to know about thwarts, strakes and so on The naval aspects of Hygelac s raid are looked into, but if you are wanting to learn much about Anglo Saxon naval affairs, then there s not much to get your teeth into For example, when it comes to Edwin and Ecgfrith s naval activities in the Irish Sea, you won t get much further than you would just reading the relevant passages in Bede This is a book that I enjoyed reading, although much of it is tangential to my interests in Anglo Saxon England This book sets out to examine the long held assumption that the Anglo Saxons built rather flimsy ships that could not support a sail, and had to take to sea in what were essentially large rowing boats.This always struck me as a peculiar outlook given that sailing technology is very old, not particularly complicated, and has very obvious advantages over muscle power In addition, the Angles and the Saxons were in close contact with other sea going cultures such as the Romans that used sail as a This book sets out to examine the long held assumption that the Anglo Saxons built rather flimsy ships that could not support a sail, and had to take to sea in what were essentially large rowing boats.This always struck me as a peculiar outlook given that sailing technology is very old, not particularly complicated, and has very obvious advantages over muscle power In addition, the Angles and the Saxons were in close contact with other sea going cultures such as the Romans that used sail as a matter of routine.John Haywood looks at the origins of the rowboat theory and why it persisted He then does an excellent job of presenting evidence for an opposing view ie that the Angles, Saxons, Franks and Frisians and other tribes from the Baltic area and German coast are likely to have been accomplished seamen In fact the pattern and scope of their raiding activities appear to have been very similar to that of the Vikings that followed them.This view has important implications for many aspects of Anglo Saxon research, in particular the Germanic Migration period.John Haywood offers compelling and well reasoned arguments, but is careful to point out the relative strengths and weaknesses of his case The work is well written, very readable and impeccably referenced.Two minor niggles Firstly, the reproduction of some of the illustrations is not great, but this might have been beyond the publisher s control Secondly, there are a number of quotes and extracts in Latin with no accompanying translation I appreciate the original text being provided, but would have found it useful to have an Annex that included the same text in English.An excellent book that is a must read for anyone interested in Anglo Saxon and Frankish history This is a revised study of life on the sea in the dark ages The evidence in this edition supports Haywood s earlier arguments, and advances the view that Viking ships and sea borne activities were not as revolutionary as is commonly believed

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